Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo Review – Amazing Technology, the Future is Here…and it’s Cool!

Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo was hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  With a Keynote by “Titanic” producer Jon Landau and boasting such Virtual titans as Corey Parker and Chris Carella this was the place to be and everyone felt it.  The Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, Second Life Grid, There, IBM, Mycosm, ProtonMedia, ElectroTank and NGIGroup were among those with substantial presence.

Most of my work, other than art and culture reviews, circles over beginner or “101” perspectives on new things.  So, that’s why “Virtual Worlds” attracted me.  Because my guess is there’s a world of people out there who don’t know what any of that “techno-thingamajiggy stuff” means.  So I’ll ask the professionals some silly questions and learn more about it for the both of us.

The World Outside the Window

Producer Jon Landau

After marinating for 48 hours, it turns out, this kinda stuff is cool all by itself. Passionate, inventive, innovative.  It’s a billion dollar industry created and hosted by self-proclaimed geeks who love it.  And what’s not to admire about that?

Landau’s keynote introduced how the techniques of virtual worlds are being integrated into more mainstream audiences – namely Hollywood.  Mediums, be it music, movies, or video games are being converged by their audience.  He concludes, “Virtual is a new medium and that makes it a new opportunity.”  Indeed.

101 for the 101

Electric Sheep’s Chris Carella hosted a panel shortly thereafter where he first apologized to the audience if he becomes too simplistic or basic.  It wasn’t.  But what it was, was a realization into just how vast this virtual world is already.  

Icarus Studio's "Fallen Earth"

Games, socializing, networking…. And of course monetization: advertising, branding, micro-purchases. With several million users world-wide, and constantly growing, this is a strong audience of all ages looking for fun and adventure.

So Who are They?

So many companies lined the floor.  Some looking for financing, others ready to dazzle and delight.  Others yet have instructional or educational purposes.  And of course, a section to help you spend your money within this virtual world – think Paypal, but more.

Icarus Studios

Icarus Studios is designed to dazzle.  Christopher Mifsud, the lead designer, gives a tour of their game worlds.  And you realize, these are in fact worlds.  “Fallen Earth” is set in a post-Apocalyptic Southwest with hundreds of acres for its users to play in.  Literally.  If you wanted to test it, you could have your “guy”, or “player” or as they’re appropriately called nowadays “avatar” run in one direction consistently.  About eight days later, he would hit a boundary of some sort.  But let’s hope the player chooses better things to do, like play, adventure, fight, conquer, woo and learn.
Speaking of Learning…

Richard Kristof of Power U

Richard Kristof is the CEO of Power U.  The guy is cool, his technology is even cooler and his work seems to be changing education forever.  From things as simple as jumping through a company’s human resources hoops, or learning the in’s and out’s of working at a sandwich shop, to the “What if” factors of an airplane crash of a mega-disaster, Power U designs templates where you’re a character in this ultra-realistic world and you learn how to operate in the scenario.  Hands-on training without leaving your computer screen.

As Kristof says, “85% of learning is the ability to adapt and apply.”  And with the multiple player interface, full web interactive world and thousands of users to populate it –- not to mention the email and phone abilities – yes, you can call or receive a call from a user in the world – there’s countless ways to adapt and apply.  Outstanding.

To say the least, two days isn’t enough time to understand the world. It is, however,  enough time to taste the sizzle and get excited by it.  I heard it over and over again, it is the future.


A special thanks to PR rep Doug Mealy.  As a neophyte in this world, he helped me through the virtual jungle and I can’t recommend his services enough. Thank you sir!

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